Credit where credit is due on MilSub hands...

Vintage Rolex Discussion

Credit where credit is due on MilSub hands...

Joined: May 7th, 2006, 5:02 pm

April 14th, 2011, 2:22 pm #1

Just sort of ruminating on this (and it's probably obvious & old news to many here) but I think that the UK MOD obviously came to prefer the Rolex Oyster case/crown structure but mandated that Rolex duplicate Omega Seamaster 300 hands when granting them their contract:



We know that in fact the SM 300 was issued by the MOD several years prior to the Submariner.
We know that the "Niad" pressure-fit crown system on the Omega was highly unreliable and prone to flooding in shallow water.
This then necessitated retrofitting of a screwdown crown (denoted by the "A" prefix) on the SM300 and this most likely also disenchanted the MOD regarding the Omega's suitability for the required duty.
I have heard that there is not really much to chose between the Seamaster's cal. 552 and the Rolex 1520. Of course, watchmakers love those pre-1970 Omega movements because they are easy to service! Nonetheless, I do not believe movement was the reason for the MOD's decision to switch.
I am not sure about the price component but can't imagine that the SM300 was much more expensive than a 5513, if at all.
And so we have to conclude that the MOD turned to Rolex because of their superior water resistance...with the proviso that they adopt the more legible Omega-style "Gladiator" hands and spear-tip sweep seconds (and maybe even the 60-tick bezel). Hence:


(Photo from VRF Archive by Mike Wood)

Like I said, I don't think I'm breaking any new ground but just wanted to write it out for my own--and other MilSub novices'--benefit.
Best,
T.

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Faz99Master
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Joined: September 21st, 2006, 5:41 pm

April 14th, 2011, 2:54 pm #2


...when you look at the Milsub in comparaison with a regular 5513. If I were a top ranking military dude in charge of determining what time pieces were going to bu used in the field, it's clear that the Omega attributes were legibility and function (dial, hands bezel) and the biggy, was water resistance which Rolex wins hands down with the Oyter case.

I wonder if there was any, even microscopic, collaboration between both manufacturers in regards to the hands design that finally found it's way into the Submariner?

Thanks for brigning up this facinating subject!


Cheers,


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Joined: May 7th, 2006, 5:02 pm

April 14th, 2011, 3:02 pm #3

That is an interesting question, Federico, because we also know that it is common to find MilSubs fitted with Omega hands to give the appearance of a more valuable full spec version. And yet these hands are not interchangeable, to my knowledge, and parts in the Rolex and/or the Omega hands have to be altered to make them fit. At least that is my understanding.
But I would doubt the watch world's two fiercest competitors would collaborate on anything, much less a lucrative military contract they were both competing for.
All the best,
Tom
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Faz99Master
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Joined: September 21st, 2006, 5:41 pm

April 14th, 2011, 3:16 pm #4

...in letting Rolex use the hands design? After all, it's not a standard design. Was this design propritery to Omega?

Cheers,
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2wsxcde3
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2wsxcde3
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Joined: October 29th, 2006, 10:37 am

April 14th, 2011, 4:17 pm #5

Just sort of ruminating on this (and it's probably obvious & old news to many here) but I think that the UK MOD obviously came to prefer the Rolex Oyster case/crown structure but mandated that Rolex duplicate Omega Seamaster 300 hands when granting them their contract:



We know that in fact the SM 300 was issued by the MOD several years prior to the Submariner.
We know that the "Niad" pressure-fit crown system on the Omega was highly unreliable and prone to flooding in shallow water.
This then necessitated retrofitting of a screwdown crown (denoted by the "A" prefix) on the SM300 and this most likely also disenchanted the MOD regarding the Omega's suitability for the required duty.
I have heard that there is not really much to chose between the Seamaster's cal. 552 and the Rolex 1520. Of course, watchmakers love those pre-1970 Omega movements because they are easy to service! Nonetheless, I do not believe movement was the reason for the MOD's decision to switch.
I am not sure about the price component but can't imagine that the SM300 was much more expensive than a 5513, if at all.
And so we have to conclude that the MOD turned to Rolex because of their superior water resistance...with the proviso that they adopt the more legible Omega-style "Gladiator" hands and spear-tip sweep seconds (and maybe even the 60-tick bezel). Hence:


(Photo from VRF Archive by Mike Wood)

Like I said, I don't think I'm breaking any new ground but just wanted to write it out for my own--and other MilSub novices'--benefit.
Best,
T.
A failsafe design which is still used today by CWC, the current Ministry Of Defence supplier of watches for the UK armed forces.

http://www.cwcwatch.com/sbs-divers-watch.htm

Steve.P
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Joined: May 7th, 2006, 5:02 pm

April 14th, 2011, 4:44 pm #6

...in letting Rolex use the hands design? After all, it's not a standard design. Was this design propritery to Omega?

Cheers,
If they were, why wouldn't Rolex have sued the multitude of Mercedes hands imitators?



I'm not even so sure dial designs are really all that proprietary...




Best,
T.
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munchiew
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munchiew
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Joined: July 25th, 2010, 6:16 am

April 14th, 2011, 5:06 pm #7

Just sort of ruminating on this (and it's probably obvious & old news to many here) but I think that the UK MOD obviously came to prefer the Rolex Oyster case/crown structure but mandated that Rolex duplicate Omega Seamaster 300 hands when granting them their contract:



We know that in fact the SM 300 was issued by the MOD several years prior to the Submariner.
We know that the "Niad" pressure-fit crown system on the Omega was highly unreliable and prone to flooding in shallow water.
This then necessitated retrofitting of a screwdown crown (denoted by the "A" prefix) on the SM300 and this most likely also disenchanted the MOD regarding the Omega's suitability for the required duty.
I have heard that there is not really much to chose between the Seamaster's cal. 552 and the Rolex 1520. Of course, watchmakers love those pre-1970 Omega movements because they are easy to service! Nonetheless, I do not believe movement was the reason for the MOD's decision to switch.
I am not sure about the price component but can't imagine that the SM300 was much more expensive than a 5513, if at all.
And so we have to conclude that the MOD turned to Rolex because of their superior water resistance...with the proviso that they adopt the more legible Omega-style "Gladiator" hands and spear-tip sweep seconds (and maybe even the 60-tick bezel). Hence:


(Photo from VRF Archive by Mike Wood)

Like I said, I don't think I'm breaking any new ground but just wanted to write it out for my own--and other MilSub novices'--benefit.
Best,
T.
Learnt something new today. I have always admired Omega. In fact, just bought another Bullhead today to add to my small Omega collection.
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964RS
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964RS
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Joined: January 10th, 2009, 12:52 pm

April 14th, 2011, 5:08 pm #8

A failsafe design which is still used today by CWC, the current Ministry Of Defence supplier of watches for the UK armed forces.

http://www.cwcwatch.com/sbs-divers-watch.htm

Steve.P
+1 Steve
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ortope
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ortope
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Joined: December 14th, 2006, 10:46 pm

April 14th, 2011, 5:29 pm #9

Just sort of ruminating on this (and it's probably obvious & old news to many here) but I think that the UK MOD obviously came to prefer the Rolex Oyster case/crown structure but mandated that Rolex duplicate Omega Seamaster 300 hands when granting them their contract:



We know that in fact the SM 300 was issued by the MOD several years prior to the Submariner.
We know that the "Niad" pressure-fit crown system on the Omega was highly unreliable and prone to flooding in shallow water.
This then necessitated retrofitting of a screwdown crown (denoted by the "A" prefix) on the SM300 and this most likely also disenchanted the MOD regarding the Omega's suitability for the required duty.
I have heard that there is not really much to chose between the Seamaster's cal. 552 and the Rolex 1520. Of course, watchmakers love those pre-1970 Omega movements because they are easy to service! Nonetheless, I do not believe movement was the reason for the MOD's decision to switch.
I am not sure about the price component but can't imagine that the SM300 was much more expensive than a 5513, if at all.
And so we have to conclude that the MOD turned to Rolex because of their superior water resistance...with the proviso that they adopt the more legible Omega-style "Gladiator" hands and spear-tip sweep seconds (and maybe even the 60-tick bezel). Hence:


(Photo from VRF Archive by Mike Wood)

Like I said, I don't think I'm breaking any new ground but just wanted to write it out for my own--and other MilSub novices'--benefit.
Best,
T.
A few weeks a go I posted a document showing the specification wanted by the MOD for the Milsub:



Here are my two watches:



Cheers

AZ
Last edited by ortope on April 15th, 2011, 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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2wsxcde3
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2wsxcde3
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Joined: October 29th, 2006, 10:37 am

April 14th, 2011, 6:10 pm #10

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